Rev. Fr. Nelson Orqueta


How many times did it happen to you that you agreed and promised to do something, but you intentionally did not do it? Or you initially refused to do something you were asked to do but you changed your mind and did the right thing?


I ask this question for obvious reason: it is evoked by today’s gospel reading.


We heard in the gospel the story of two sons who say something and do another. The father in the parable went to his first son and said, “Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.” And the first son said, “No, I will not.”


You can imagine some of the things he might have said:

“No! I can’t. I have other plans for today.”

“I have something more important to do.”


Imagine how the father must have felt upon hearing it. He must have felt sick in the pit of his stomach. I’d like to ask you to imagine it from the point of view of God –

            the God who invites us to work in his vineyard…

            the God who invites us to work with him in building a better world.

            This is the God who has done so much for us,

           who has given us blessings too numerous to count.


Now, what do we say to this God, explicitly or implicitly, directly or indirectly, consciously or unconsciously? Ano ba ‘yung sinasabi natin at ‘yung implikasyon ng sinasabi natin sa tuwing tumatanggi tayong magtrabaho sa kanyang ubasan? (What are the implications when we refuse to work in the Lord’s vineyard?)


The bottom line of what we say when we refuse to work for God is this:

                        “I’ve got better things to do with my time than work for you

                                    or work for the building up of your kingdom.”

                        “I’ve got better things to do with my money than share it

                                    to the poor who are just too lazy to work.”

                        “I can use my talents and abilities and be compensated better

                                    than put them in the service of the community for free.”

                        “Who are you to demand anything from me? I owe you nothing.”


Of course, we can say that we are not that rude to say those things. But, again, that is the bottom of our refusal “to go out and work in the vineyard today.” Think of how the Father feels.


How wonderful then it must have been for the father when he went to his other son and told him to go out into the vineyard and do the work that needed to be done.

He must have felt elated upon hearing the response of his other son: “Yes, Father, I will go.” But we know what happens: He did not go.


The two sons in today’s gospel parable are not the type that will bring much happiness and joy to their father. Though, of course, the one who in the end obeyed was certainly better than the other.


However, it must be emphasized that both the initial defiance of the first son and the instant willingness without follow through of the second son are deficient. Both show weakness, a lack of love, and vagueness of purpose.


What is given to us as an example to follow is neither the first son nor the second son, but the Only Son of God, Jesus Christ. Combine the quick “Yes” of the second son with the ultimate commitment of the first, and we see a snapshot of Jesus. Jesus’ obedience to the Father’s will is what we must imitate. The expression of love is always moral and is revealed in obedience.


For Jesus, real love is shown only in true obedience.


Let me reiterate the point of the gospel parable: The ideal child is the one who is the one in whom professed belief and practice meet and match. We must imitate Jesus who always sought his Father’s will, looked to God for the power to obey, and faithfully accomplished God’s will.


Indeed, my dear friends, what we profess and practice should meet and match.

There must be congruence between our words and our actions. We must strive to carry out our fine words into fine deeds. Our “Yes, Lord!” must be translated into concrete actions. Keep in mind what Jesus says in another gospel passage:

                         “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’

                        will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one

                        who does the will of my Father  in heaven.”


Let us end with a prayer…

            God, our Father, help us understand your will,

                        Make us humbly realize that the only way

                        to bring peace to our heart, joy to our mind,

                        and beauty to our life is to do your will.

            May we never forget that our highest fulfillment,

                        our greatest happiness, and our widest usefulness

                        are to be found in living in harmony with your will.

                        Father, your will be done. Amen.


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